This Twitter account went viral for explaining Easter using Jewish jargon
(JTA) — The lead author of a Twitter account that imagines a world in which most people are Jewish knew his Easter feed would go viral when Michael Twitty, the Jewish food historian and celebrity chef, shared it with its 70,000 subscribers.
@JewWhoHasItAll’s 27-tweet thread, posted April 13, explains common Easter practices, the history of the holiday, and the origins of some of its most visible symbols, such as chocolate eggs and the Easter bunny , all in the form of a letter to Jewish teachers who are used to having predominantly Jewish students.
The Easter Mass, for example, is called “Christian shacharit services,” using the Hebrew word for the prayers Jews recite each morning. Referring to sourdough foods which are prohibited during the Jewish holiday of Passover, another tweet read, “Easter has no restrictions on the consumption of chametz, and indeed many traditional foods contain chametz.”
And in a story familiar to anyone involved in planning synagogue events for children, the thread explains: “Some Christian shuls are having a special egg hunt activity for children, so that Christian children have the chance to meet other Christian kids and do something fun together. ”
The thread was a watershed moment for the five-month-old account, run by a quartet of Jewish writers who maintain their online anonymity primarily to protect themselves from anti-Semitism. The tweet has been shared thousands of times on Twitter and even more on Facebook, where the tweets have been compiled into a single letter that has circulated widely and garnered praise from Jews and Christians.
“I want you to read this very carefully written thread, especially if you are a Christian or a Christian…just read,” wrote Twitty, who grew up wanting to be a Christian pastor before becoming a black, Jewish voice of prominent in food. world. “If you go there…uh…you understood the mission. »
The mission, according to the authors of @JewWhoHasItAll, is to “make people more aware of mainstream culture, more aware of the Christian-normative society we live in and how much of what they accept as normal American stuff and typical is just not universal.
We spoke to one of the four people behind the story about his origins, the viral success of the Easter Thread, and why the satirical exercise in cross-cultural translation affects Jews and Christians alike.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
JTA: I’m curious about the origins of Jew Who Knows It All. When did you decide to start doing this?
Jew Who Has Everything: It’s sort of the end result of almost a lifetime of what I call my annual season of angst, which begins every year just before Rosh Hashanah when I know non-Jews won’t recognize just not our big parties. . It continues on Boxing Day when we know that non-Jews will finally stop focusing on Christmas after months of it. Last year in November, I realized I really needed a satirical story like Man Who Has It All, but does some Jewish stuff. [@ManWhoHasItAll is an influential account that says it aims to subvert the “established sexist narratives women endure.”] My friends and I started joking around on Facebook, then we ended up becoming a group of writers on Twitter.
I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a funny person. I consider myself the writer and editor, and then I have three other writers on it.
Why do you think @JewWhoHasItAll resonates so much with people? And the Easter thread in particular?
I think it resonated with Jews and other minorities from the beginning because it’s just sort of a validation of the experience that so many people have had. It’s empowering for us to see how many Jews and other minorities really see themselves in this. They understand what we are doing. And I think that now resonates with Christians as well, especially because it’s pretty clear that we’re not making fun of them, I think. Usually, I think it’s hard for some people to understand that they really aren’t the butt of our jokes, and we try to make that clear. And we have a companion account, @Jewsplainer, who comes in and tries to make it clear that no one is really the butt of our jokes. [Jewsplainer translates Jewish expressions into plain English.] It was just that we were respectful and expressed or described it from our own point of view, from our own frame of reference.
What’s the most surprising place you’ve seen shared on the Easter feed? Who has been the most surprising fan of this work?
We have long-time Christian followers, several clergy. A reverend even asked me if he could be a friend of mine. It’s really great because I think it shows that they really understand what we’re doing and I think it’s reassuring that we achieved our goal of not being attacking.
Do you think everyone agrees that this is satire? Because it’s in the bio, but people don’t always read it.
People certainly don’t. We constantly have a lot of people responding to it seriously, even people who’ve been following us for a while and know we’re being satirical – sometimes people maybe forget. We have to explain to them or come in and remind them, like, this is satire. [Some] people just don’t understand it’s satire or don’t understand satire, even if they understand it’s satire or think it’s wrong despite satire. We once had, in fact, a Jewess who repeatedly argued with us even though three times we told her it was satire. We told her once, we reminded her twice more, she kept arguing with us. So I don’t think it really affects everyone.
You said you didn’t want Christians to be the butt of jokes. And I think that kind of satire works because he’s coming from a minority identity group, you know, the punch, no punch. It filled a very specific niche, so I’m curious what you guys think.
I think other minority groups certainly could have done it and I always hope that we will meet the Muslim who has everything or a Buddhist who has everything. I don’t think Christians really have a perspective of normative Christian society.
I really think that if there was a purpose to all of this, it would rather be the atheists and anti-theists who continue to push Christian normativity and Christian hegemony while rejecting it. So in their rejection of Christianity, they continue to center Christianity by insisting that all of these things are truly secular. It wouldn’t exist from a dominant point of view, because it’s a bit like the fish asking “what water?” and it’s all around them, and they can’t see it.
Our goal is really to make people more aware of the mainstream culture, more aware of the normative Christian society we live in and how what they accept as normal, typical American things just isn’t universal, or isn’t t general american stuff. But you know, there are real Americans who live life differently and we have these different perspectives. We have different traditions, we may or may not celebrate holidays differently and it’s all equally valid and equally very American.
What do you think of all those politicians tweeting on the first night of Passover with inappropriate images, like bread, menorahs and sufganiyot, Hanukkah donuts?
I have several ideas about this. Sometimes it’s people with good intentions. Sometimes it’s people who just don’t know. And really at that age, I think that’s not entirely forgivable because there are ways to learn. And I think these particular politicians, they have the resources, they really should be able to give us the kind of proper greetings with the proper imagery.
Did you encounter any sort of harassment or really mean tweets or DMs or anything like that?
Yes, yes, I have. There have been tweets that have been flagged before we’ve even seen them. But we saw several blatantly anti-Semitic tweets directed at us. There’s one with Gordon Ramsay’s GIF that says, “Why don’t you just jump in the oven?” which, you know, I’m pretty sure that’s not how Ramsay intended. But now that’s how it’s used. We also had several people say, “Well, I used to support the Jews, but look how hateful they are. Now I hate them too. And it’s like, well, come on — clearly, they weren’t allies to begin with.
Whenever someone makes a joke about anything, there will be upset people.
It’s true – not everyone is going to like us, not everyone is going to understand us. We hope that at least we are doing people good by not trying to offend and we try to put our money where we are when we say other people might learn more about Jewish traditions and holidays Jews, images, all that. So we try to do the same before writing any of these vacation explainers. We try to make sure that we at least do things right.
I didn’t know what it was empty easter eggs [symbolizing an empty tomb]. I learned something new.
Many people also learned something from our Christmas. One category of people who are offended are those who think I was just making things up. And it was [this tweet about how] the date of Christmas was fixed so that the first day of the year would be eight days later for the breaking of Jesus and it was the feast of the circumcision until the Catholic Church moved it. But it’s actually, as far as I know, true. And people were really surprised to hear that.
Everybody says, “Oh, no, it’s because of the winter solstice or the Saturnalia. But neither of those dates is December 25. But do you know what it is?